There was a big response when we brought you the story of some 30 men who were propositioned by undercover police officers at adult film stores in New York and then subsequently arrested for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution”. To update you, a coalition that was formed by several of those arrested met with the District Attorney of Manhattan this week, and he has vowed to investigate if the NYPD have been behaving improperly, which may be his legalese way of saying he’s looking into accusations of entrapment.
Robert Pinter, who was arrested in October 2008 after an undercover police officer attempted to pay him for a sexual liaison that the former had just agreed to have, has spearheaded the group calling themselves the “Coalition to Stop the Arrests”.
The group, who formed early 2009, has campaigned long and hard for this enquiry to be made and even lobbied outside of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s house in February when appeals seemed to be falling on deaf ears.
Pinter and several other members of the group met with the 90 year old DA Robert Morgenthau who was most adamant that the case be examined. “The first thing Morgenthau said was, ‘We are going to investigate all these cases,’” one of the groups members, Joey Nelson, also coordinator for the Queer Justice League (not to be confused with the Justice League of America, though, I’m sure, looking just as good in spandex), said.
Pink News also caught up with Robert Pinter, founder of Coalition to Stop the Arrests, following the meeting.
Pinter had little to say on why he couldn’t come up with a catchier name for the group, possibly for fear he’d be arrested on trumped-up loitering charges if he stayed in any one place too long, but commented that DA Morgenthau had talked of approaching each man involved in the case, some of whom pleaded guilty to lesser charges to escape harsher sentences and the stigma attached to a conviction for solicitation, and would look at each complaint individually, giving help and advice where he could.
The DA was also considering dropping the charges against five men who had pleaded not guilty, which is perhaps an indication to the overall tone of his investigation.
Robert Pinter didn’t say if the DA Robert Morgenthau might examine New York city’s legal cases against six of the shops where the alleged acts of loitering for prostitution occurred, cases that later led to the city buying up the properties and selling them on for a tidy sum.
Is there a puritanical cleanup going on in Manhattan, and older gay men like Robert Pinter have been caught in its wake? A money making exercise perhaps? Entrapment is the word on many people’s lips, but no one is quite willing to call it out in an official capacity, but Mayor Bloomberg’s all but silence on the issue seems to speak volumes.
GLBT groups throughout America have reacted angrily to what they see as a return to previous homophobic form that many had thought long since past where the NYPD were concerned, but statements released by the NYPD claim they were reacting to legitimate nuisance complaints made against the stores and the people that frequent them. Check back, because I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this case.